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God is love, I hear, over and over. God is love.
I wonder what the speaker's definitions are.
About God. Do they mean the traditional God, the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God who knows everything, created everything, and still controls everything? Including playoff games…?
That's a comfortable notion, I suppose, if it lets you blame God from everything that goes wrong, from avalanches that wipe out holiday resorts to tsunamis that flood a nuclear power plant and poison the entire Pacific Ocean.
To say nothing of demented people who run down holidaying crowds with a truck, or open fire in a movie theatre, or abuse small children.
"God moves in mysterious ways," they will say. "I guess we'll never understand God's will...."
Such a belief may offer comfort, but it's not a God of love.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: life, God, love
Women in eight U.S. states have now been told that they have value only as wombs and child-care workers. Eight states have now effectively banned abortion, in what appears to be a coordinated attack on the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right.
Arkansas and Utah moved the permissible date up to 18 weeks of pregnancy. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri moved it up to six weeks, when the embryo’s heartbeat can be first detected -- before many women even know they’re pregnant.
Alabama enacted the most stringent restrictions, banning abortion entirely. At any stage.
After the Alabama votes, gloating representatives declared their legislation a triumph for human rights. For protecting the most vulnerable members of society.
But the smirk on the face of those representatives as they faced the media’s cameras told the real story. It said, “Ha! Gotcha, you bitches!”
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: abortion, United Church of Canada, Alabama, Missouri
Joan went to put some dishes back onto the top shelf in her kitchen. And discovered that a smoked-glass bowl had broken in half.
We have no idea how, or when, it happened. It could have been yesterday; it could have been years ago.
The bowl belonged to my mother, who died in 1972. We’ve kept it, all these years, because it was hers. We kept several things of hers, because every time we used them, those things reminded us of her.
More accurately, perhaps, we kept them because they reminded us that we loved her.
Many of her things we inherited from her have gone, now. We still have her Indian trays and coffee tables. And her silverware -- that needs polishing regularly -- and her teacups. But the milk jug is long gone. So is a vase we particularly admired.
Joan handed the broken pieces of the bowl to me. “I suppose I could glue it together,” I said.
“It’s not worth fixing,” she replied. “Just recycle it.”
Tags: beliefs, Habits, Recycling, Richard Rohr
The news that two float planes collided in the air and crashed, near Ketchikan, Alaska, took me back to my own exposure to bush flying on the north coast. (Funny how that happens more and more as I grow older.) For about four years in the 1950s and ‘60s, I got flown around northern B.C. by some of the best pilots in the world – which is why I’m still here to write about the experience.
Since the accident, flight companies in Ketchikan have been deluged by people calling to cancel bookings. Or seeking assurances about safety.
In bush flying, there is no assurance of safety. Never.
Safety depends on the quality of the plane and the skill of the pilot.
Tags: Ketchikan, bush pilots, Beaver, Otter, mid-air collision
I offered you a lake of love
Clear, deep, sun-dancing,
Refreshed by mountain streams.
You waded in up to your ankles,
Then you shook the water off your feet
And dried between your toes.
I woke during the night, a while ago, with my mind racing. It was very dark. Heavy clouds hid the moon and stars. Our rural area has no street lights. And at 3:00 a.m., no neighbouring houses had any lights on.
Rather than tossing and turning, and probably waking Joan, I got out of bed, and went to our living room where I could look out the front windows.
I could see a few lights across the lake. I could make out the vague reflective sheen of the lake, the darker bulk of the hills on the far side, some humps that might be bushes in our garden.
Nothing moved. It was very peaceful. Almost holy.
` After a while, calmed and quieted, I decided I could go back to bed.
Tags: darkness, dying, death, doorways
The news on Tuesday that Jean Vanier had died hit me like a punch in the gut. Tears welled up, unbidden.
I can’t claim that I knew him personally. But that’s not quite accurate. Because everyone knew him personally. That’s the kind of person he was. He wasn’t paying attention to the person behind you. He didn’t care if you were a prime minister or a corporate CEO or Mother Teresa — you, as you, mattered.
He was an unprepossessing speaker, by conventional standards. He ambled on stage, almost shambled on, 6-feet-4-inches looking as if he had slept in his clothes, with a great hooked nose that hung over the microphone.
And a smile that stretched from here to eternity.
He talked as if there was only one person out there — and it was you.
Tags: Jean Vanier, L'Arche, love
The late Scottish philosopher John Macmurray once suggested, in a BBC talk, that friendship was an illustration of the ideal “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” that Jesus talked about.
Jesus, Macmurray reasoned, contradicted himself. One time he would tell his listeners, the kingdom is already here. Look around, you can see it. You all know it. Other times, Jesus would say it is not here. Not yet. But it can burst in, explode almost, unexpectedly.
What human situation, Macmurray asked, fits those contradictory conditions? Friendship, he answered. Everyone knows friendship already. Yet we also know that friendship can blossom suddenly, between people who previously were barely acquaintances.
Tags: Friendship, Macmurray, Ellithorpe, kinds of love
In 15 years of writing these weekly columns, I’ve learned that there are three subjects that always get up people’s noses. Anything I write about abortion, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and/or gun control provokes a heated response.
These responses often come from people who don’t subscribe to this column, people who live in Germany, or Brazil, or Indonesia. I assume someone has forwarded my words with a comment like, “Isn’t this SoB outrageous? Tell the author what you think of him!”
Today's column is about guns. (I can see hackles rising already.)
Guns are not the problem. (I expect the National Rifle Association to forward that assertion all over the world.)
Gun owners are the problem. (I don’t expect the NRA to forward that part.)
Tags: guns, NRA